Tuesday March 31, 2020

Koshur language – Carrying forward Kashmiri culture

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By Harshmeet Singh

There aren’t many better examples of India’s diverse culture than its linguistic diversity. The country is home to 780 languages with over 120 of them holding the ‘official’ status. But the other side of the story is that India currently heads the list of UNESCO’s world’s languages in danger. The constitution, in its eighth schedule, lists 22 languages as the official regional languages in the country. This series of articles is an attempt to focus on these 22 languages, their pasts and present, and cherish our linguistic diversity. After discussing about Assamese and Bodo in the previous write-ups, today, we shift our focus towards the Kashmiri language or Koshur.

Popularly known as Koshur, the Kashmiri language has over 5 and a half million speakers in India, with most of them residing in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The language is also spoken by over 1 lakh people in Pakistan, most of whom migrated to the country from the Kashmir valley. Kashmiri is one of the most prominent Dardic languages.

koshur table

In fact, Sir George Abraham Grierson, the Irish civil servant who conducted the Linguistic Survey of India, famously wrote, “Kashmiri is the only one of the Dardic languages that has a literature”. He also said that the Kashmiri language is “an essential preliminary to any inquiry”.

Last year, with an aim to preserve Kashmiri language and culture, the Jammu Kashmir Cultural Confederation was formed after more than 50 small organizations carrying a similar aim came together. Well known poet and the Jnanpith award winner, Prof Rehman Rahi was appointed the chief patron of the confederation while acclaimed writer Ghulam Nabi Khayal came on board as the patron.

Kashmiri was first introduced as a medium of instruction in schools in the 1950s. But it was soon banished owing to an inelegant script. As a result, like most other regional languages in the country, Kashmiri has also witnessed a steep decline in popularity over the past several decades. To arrest the decreasing popularity, the state of J&K made the language a compulsory subject in all the schools of the state till the secondary level in November 2008.

Kashmir’s modern history has been burdened by conflicts. A number of locals in the state of J&K also accuse the central Government of neglecting the state’s indigenous culture. Maybe by helping in preserving Koshur and the Kashmiri culture in the state, the Government would be able to convince them that it wishes nothing but the best for them.

 

To read more in this series –

Bodo Sahitya Sabha – Trying to revive the language

Assamese – a bright spot in Indian regional languages scene

 

Next Story

The Threat of Coronavirus Arrives in Jammu and Kashmir

Kashmiri students from Wuhan in China, which is the epicentre of COVID-19 outbreak, have already returned to the Valley and joined their families

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So far, all tests of suspected COVID-19 patients are conducted in Pune and Delhi where samples are sent from Kashmir. Wikimedia Commons

After two locals were declared on Saturday as “high viral dose cases with probability of testing positive for coronavirus”, the threat of the dreaded viral infection has become real in Jammu and Kashmir.

Both the suspected COVID-19 patients have been kept in isolation at the Jammu medical college hospital. Earlier, both of them had escaped from the isolation ward, but were traced on Friday and put under isolation.

“They have a travel trajectory from Italy to India. We are now ascertaining the arch of contact between these two and other locals after they arrived in Jammu”, said an official deployed on viral control and suspect identification duties.

Reports here suggest that around 49 tourists whose travel trajectory included Iran, South Korea and China entered the Valley two months back. Hopefully, these tourists were free of any coronavirus infection, but the fact that they entered the Valley without any confirmatory tests puts the place at high risk.

Around 300 Shia Muslim pilgrims have been to Iraq and other places during the last one month and they have started returning to Kargil district of Ladakh Union Territory. Except for thermal scanners there is no other confirmatory facility that has been used to ascertain whether the returning Kargil pilgrims are safe or not.

Kashmiri students from Wuhan in China, which is the epicentre of COVID-19 outbreak, have already returned to the Valley and joined their families. Parents of around 300 Kashmiri students studying in Iran have held demonstrations for the return of their children to Kashmir.

Coronavirus, Corona Virus, Covid-19, Virus, Pandemic
After two locals were declared on Saturday as “high viral dose cases with probability of testing positive for coronavirus”, the threat of the dreaded viral infection has become real in Jammu and Kashmir. Pixabay

Reports suggest that an exercise have already been started by the external affairs ministry to bring these students back to Kashmir from Iran. So far, all tests of suspected COVID-19 patients are conducted in Pune and Delhi where samples are sent from Kashmir.

Director of Valley’s only super specialty hospital, Sher-e-Kashmir institute of medical sciences, has said that samples of suspected patients are now being sent to Delhi instead of Pune and the results are received within 24 hours.

ALSO READ: Apple Asks Employees in U.S. To Work From Home Amidst Coronavirus Outbreak

Kashmir being a cosmopolitan tourist destination is susceptible to the epidemic more than most other places in the country. The risk is doubled because of the sanguine climate of the Valley where the maximum temperatures rarely rise above 27 degrees Celsius that is believed to be the survival limit for the dreaded virus. (IANS)